How to Subcontract a Home Addition
Make sure that your subcontractors show up on time and complete their assignments
By Glyn Sheridan
Whether you're a new contractor or you're a homeowner acting as a general contractor for a new home addition, there are steps you can take to ensure that the project runs smoothly. Subcontractors specialize in one area of construction or design, and you will serve as the project coordinator, making sure each subcontractor shows up on time and completes his job. A home addition will involve numerous subs, but if you follow some guidelines, you'll stay on top of the job from start to finish.
- What You Need to Know
- You'll need a building permit and a copy of the local building codes that apply to your new addition. You'll also need business information from every subcontractor you hire, including their Federal Tax ID number, a copy of their insurance policy and their professional license number, if required in your state.
Advertise for bids or contact the subcontractors you'd like to submit a bid for your addition. Although it is advisable to get bids from more than one subcontractor for every phase of the construction, it isn't always possible. Sometimes, the best subcontractors are booked and they will decline to bid. If this happens, ask them if they can refer another subcontractor whose work they would recommend.
Check each subcontractor's references. The best references are the most recent ones. Request that each subcontractor lists three recent clients and follow up with a phone call to each. Ask clients about their overall satisfaction, whether they were happy with the subcontractor's work and if the sub completed the project on time.
Narrow down your list of subcontractors to one for each aspect of your project. For a home addition, you will need an excavation contractor, a foundation contractor, a framing contractor or a carpenter, an electrician and a drywall contractor. You may need a separate roofing contractor, as well. Depending upon the purpose of the addition, you may also need a plumber, a mason and an HVAC specialist.
Obtain a certificate of insurance from your chosen subs. This is a paper mailed directly to you from the subcontractor's insurance provider.
Make your schedule based upon the time frame given you by your subs. This is the biggest headache for some homeowners who act as their own general contractor, but with constant communication, you can head off the some of the problems. Allow sufficient time for a subcontractor to complete his part of the project before scheduling the next one.
Notify a subcontractor immediately that he needs to reschedule if another sub takes extra time to complete his portion of the project or if the weather delays the job. In some cases, back-ordered materials can throw off the time line. You serve as the juggler, keeping the subs informed and rescheduling, if necessary. In addition to organizing the subcontractors, you must notify the building inspector when you're ready for her to examine each stage of construction.
Monitor each subcontractor's progress without interfering. If you've done your homework, you've hired reputable subs, so unless you spot a real problem, let them do their job. The building inspector will catch errors.
Pay your subcontractors upon completion of their portion of the project unless you've agreed upon a different method of payment. Some subcontractors may require a partial payment early if they are purchasing materials for your job.
Ask each subcontractor to sign a lien release at the time you pay. A lien release states that the subcontractor received full payment for the project. This ensures that a dispute will not occur later, resulting in the subcontractor filing a mechanic's lien against your property.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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